A Baking Miniseries, Day Two: Why Can't I Soften Butter In the Microwave?
Butter is like Beyonce. You respect it.
Too many of you want cookies now (I understand), so you put your butter in the microwave to "soften." I show grace in almost all things. Microwaving butter is not one of them.
Without getting all Mr. Wizard on you, the science of baking doesn't work without butter being the correct temperature. Virtually all cookie and cake recipes rely on air being incorporated into the batter or dough, and the most common way that happens is for sugar to cut into softened butter like little fluff knives. This does not work with melted butter or even really soft butter with the tiniest pool of melted butter at the edges because that's probably okay, right?
Last week, a friend sent me a photo of her chocolate chip cookies. "They taste great, but why are they so flat and dense?" My reply: "Did you soften your butter in the microwave?"
Of course she did.
Here's what you do instead.
If you want cookies now, pull out the butter and cut it into slices. Fan the slices out on the butter wrapping paper, and leave it while you measure out the other ingredients. It'll be ready by the time you are. If you're not in a hurry, leaving the sticks out for 20-30 minutes should do it.
Show that butter who's boss, girl.
Did you miss Day One? We talked about flour turds.